Behind The Transactions Names Are Real People


Running my eyes up and down the long list in my local sports section recently I couldn’t help but marvel about how many guys had their lives dramatically changed the day before. The list, as anyone who reads a sports page knows, is called “Transactions” and it is compiled by the Associated Press every day as a synopsis of the day’s movements and deals throughout sports.

This particular day the section under baseball was longer than the span between the tip of my middle finger and the end of my thumb. In other words, if someone had said, What’s the haps, bro? on this day the answer would have been “Plenty.” The comings and goings were hectic. The comissioner’s office was in action.  A half dozen teams in the American League made moves.  Another half-dozen teams in the National League made moves. Not to mention the activity in the American Association and the Frontier League.

To most readers, the names and the status of the individuals are just agate type. To those named, the activity represents a major change in their circumstances. They may have been traded, cut, put on the disabled list. They may be moving entire households with wives and kids. They may be having their dreams dashed. In the tiny type an entire biography may be written. The fact that Joe Jones was shipped out by the Boston Red Sox might mean his Major League career was over. Or it might be a temporary setback.

The transactions list can announce good news in the way of a promotion, bad news in the way of a demotion, and even worse news in the way of a punishment or injury. What you get is the absolute bare bones fact about what happened to a guy. It hardly tells the story at all. The listing is just a sterile report.

Sometimes the few words do provide just enough detail for the reader to go uh, oh. On this day the Commissioner’s office suspended a Cleveland minor-league pitcher named Juan Nivar for 50 games for testing positive for a performance enhancing substance. I never heard of Nivar, but this is one of those bad news reports–for him.

Meanwhile, Tampa Bay reinstated Evan Longoria from the 60-day disabled list. Good news for him and Tampa Bay fans. Likewise Miami’s word that it reinstated Giancarlo Stantion from the 15-day DL.

The Chicago Cubs “selected” the contract of left-handed pitcher Brooks Raley from Iowa of the Pacific Coast League. That means Raley is going from AAA to the Show. Good news item. In Raley’s case you can imagine a player receiving the happy news and telephoning his mom, dad, siblings and friends to announce, Hey, I’ve been called up by the Cubs. Although I was in no position to ask him, it could well have played out this way for Raley because he did make his Major League debut –and took the loss–the same night the transaction was announced.

The Los Angeles Angels reinstated shortstop Erick Ayber from the 15-day disabled list (good for him), but the ripple effect meant that another infielder, Andrew Romine, was shipped out to Salt Lake City. He might not have been so deliriously happy about Ayber’s renewed health.

It was a virtual traffic jam in the New York Mets’ office. The Mets moved one guy from AAA Buffalo to the parent club, Garrett Olson, sent one pitcher, Elvin Ramirez, to Buffalo, moved pitcher Dillon Gee to the 60-day disabled list (basically announcing he isn’t coming back any time soon), and moved another pitcher, C.J. Nitkowski from Binghamton to Buffalo.

Further down the list we come to the American Association and the Amarillo Sox announcing that they have released infielder Ryan Hutson. I don’t know who Ryan Hutson is, but he was an uh, oh transaction. When you get released from a minor league team it may well mean your career is over. Some administrators are telling you that you don’t have the right stuff, that you are not a major leaguer. A quicky check tells me Hutson was drafted by the Mets in 2011, but two seasons into the pros his minor league average is .228.

That it not the type of batting average that will get you promoted. This transactions item may well be the last time his name appears in the baseball world’s professional listings.